South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Giving up disposable bags a goal


April 10, 2012

Ten local community leaders will give up disposable bags for one week to raise awareness about dependency of paper and plastic bags and to encourage the use of totes and other reusable bags by the general public.

Political and advocacy leaders Doug Shields and Monica Douglas Glowinski are among those who will spend April 15 through April 21 going about their daily activities without disposable bags.

The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Challenge is the brainstorm of The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, a local initiative that collects new and gently used tote bags for distribution to the region's food pantries. April 22 marks their one year anniversary. The challenge was organized to coincide with Earth Day.

The project requires participants to forgo disposable bags when shopping or patronizing a restaurant. Takeout bags, dry cleaning bags and reusing existing paper and plastic are forbidden. Participants may use their normal amount of plastic trash bags and activities related to their work lives are exempted.

"I am participating because I want to prove to my family and friends that this is really doable," shares Monica Douglas Glowinski, Council President in Elizabeth Borough. "Is it really necessary to have 100 plastic bags from the grocery store shoved in a closet somewhere for future use? "

Participants can seek "pledges" of tote bags to support their efforts. Corporate pledges from Leed's, American Eagle, Chatham University, SEIU and the East End Food Co-op will generate more than 250 bags for the project should all ten participants complete their full week.

While there is an increased demand for items made from recycled plastics, recycling rates for plastic bags alone hover between three and six percent of the 100 billion bags American use each year. Recycling rates for paper bags are slightly higher but still top off at 10 per cent of the total bags used annually.

The list of participants includes: Jill Basel

 – owner, Chunky Monkey Unlimited, Slippery Rock; Lauren Daley – reporter, Pittsburgh City Paper, Pittsburgh; Monica Douglas Glowinski – president of Borough Council, Elizabeth; Jennah Ferrara - Fundación AIUNAU and Sustainable City News, Pittsburgh; Dok Harris – former candidate for mayor of Pittsburgh/SuperBakery, Pittsburgh; Tori Managan - sustainability fellow at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Pittsburgh; Donna Mazza – Pennsylvania Resources Council, Pittsburgh; Doug Shields – former member of Pittsburgh City Council/environmental advocate, Pittsburgh; Becky Willis – blogger at Lil Burghers, Tarentum and Joe Wos – executive director at The Toonseum, Pittsburgh.

The Pgh Tote Project works in collaboration with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the East End Food Co-operative and Pennsylvania Resources Council along with 15 other organizations to collect and make the bags available to more than 300 pantries in 11 counties. Since their founding on April 22, 2011, the project has collected more than 12,000 bags. Bags can be donated through a series of permanent drop-off spots, tote bag drives or through corporate donations of PR materials.

For more information about making a corporate pledge of tote bags or organizing a pledge tote bag drive, contact The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project at or 412-228-0216.


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